HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR A.
THEME: Those Who Know the Lord Have Great Peace
BY: Fr. Vincent Chukwuma Onwukwe
If one were to describe our world’s present situation in two words, ‘peace’ and ‘harmony’ would not be part of the chosen words. On the contrary, our world is full of crises, political and religious clashes and rivalry at various levels of human existence. A significant factor contributing to this situation is that human beings are clamouring to be independent of Jesus, the Prince of peace (Is. 9:6). Indeed, a life without Christ is full of crises!
Recently, the Catholic Church in Belgium reported in its annual report that there is a sharp rise in the number of people asking for their names to be erased from the baptismal register. This rise in debaptism requests shows a gross rejection of Christ and Christianity. It is also a pointer to spiritual ignorance, bringing more crises than peace. Pope John XXIII warned us: ‘Peace on earth, which all men of every era have most eagerly yearned for, can be firmly established, only if the order laid down by God be dutifully observed’ (Pacem in Terris, n. 1).
The above statement of John XXIII resonates with Isaiah’s metaphorical description of a peaceful world in which, because of deep knowledge of the Lord (Is 11: 9b), “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them…” (Is 11:6). Of course, the above situations are, humanly speaking, impossible occurrences, for the wolf would naturally devour the lamb. But Isaiah gives us a symbolic picture of how the knowledge of God can bring much peace to our souls and our world. To be sure, ‘knowledge’ here also implies intimacy with God. To know (yadāh in Hebrew) God is to have an intimate relationship with Him. In the days when our world would sincerely know God, justice and great peace shall flourish (Ps 72:7).
Christians are not excluded in this clarion call to a life of intimacy with God, which brings peace and harmony to our souls. We are called to a life of deep knowledge of God. However, some may also mechanically follow our churches’ sacramental and doctrinal procedures without deep relationships with God. If we belong to this category, then we need to pay attention to the warning of John the Baptist, “Repent, [rethink] for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Jn. 3:2). Jesus asked Philip a crucial question “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?” (Jn. 14:9 NRSV). This question challenges us to verify our relationship with God; is it deep or shallow? In any case, let us keep in mind that only the knowledge of God and a relationship with Him can bring us perfect peace. God will keep him in perfect harmony, whose mind is stayed on Him because he trusts in Him (Is. 26:3).
May the coming Lord bring peace and serenity to our troubled souls! Amen!
May He restore peaceful coexistence in our families! Amen!
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one voice! (Rom. 15:5-6)! Amen!
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